On the advice of my friend, GB, I decided to try a new-for-me fitness class this morning. Actually, I was supposed to try it Tuesday night, but I chickened out. I am truly an introvert in social settings and most of the time I have to force myself to come out of my comfort zone and try new things. I was a little apprehensive about this class. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to keep up. I was mostly right.
For the past few months, I’ve only been running. Slowly increasing my distance and sticking with what I know. I’ve shied away from the weight room (bad I know) since our first week here in Little Rock. There was really no reason. I’m familiar with the gym and the equipment. I have just been too comfortable with my no commitment lifestyle over the past two months. Running first thing in the morning just fit into my schedule better – AKA, I didn’t want to take the time to lift.
Okay, now that I’ve confessed my sins. I also must come clean that I really wanted to try this class, so I did it. When GB told me that I should try Barre, I had visions of tall, lean dancers teaching me their moves and gracefully, I would follow along, learning in their footsteps. Half right on that one.
My instructor was tall and lean, but also strong. My goodness, she was strong. When she handed me my 1 pound weights, I almost asked if I could have something heavier, I mean, come on, 1 pound weights? My 3 year old could lift more. But, everyone else had 1 pound weights, so I felt like I should go with the flow. Yep, 1 pound weights were all I could handle. I felt like I was back in basic training when we had to hold our arms out to our sides until we could not physically feel our fingers anymore. That’s pretty much how I felt, but in a much older woman’s body. I still wasn’t worried; I could handle some arm exercises. In fact, I probably needed that. As the new girl in this new experience, I was happy that I was not the first one to break ranks and lower my arms, just for a second, from the intense burning.
That arm workout wasn’t so bad; that was a good warm up. I kept looking around for a clock as I didn’t wear a watch. I hate not knowing what time it is. Surely that must have killed a good 10 minutes. We were moving on to lower body, this is my thing. Running up hills for the past two months has more than prepared me for the plies and squat series. I loved it. I’m all about a good lower body workout. I’m feeling awesome. “I love this workout”, I continue to tell myself. I was so happy that I stepped out and tried something new. I was starting to get really excited about this workout.
The next 30 or so minutes (remember I have no concept of time right now) tested my ability to keep my composure. I have a nervous laugh, I guess you might call it a nervous tick, if you need a visual. When I’m uncomfortable, I laugh. It’s extremely distracting. When my muscles felt like they were in the midst of hot lava, I wanted to laugh. I really had to hold it back. I was in a room with 10 other poised women concentrating very hard on their barre workout that they have most certainly done before. It was pretty obvious that I was the new girl.
I probably didn’t look like the new girl until we did an exercise that I was having a difficult time with. It was exceedingly clear that my body was not genetically engineered to bend in such a way. I have always considered myself fairly flexible and until today, I would have added strong to my description. I was situated next to the instructor, so I was keenly aware of how the exercise was intended to be performed. We moved our yoga mats up against the wall and leaned against them. With our bottoms out about 6 inches from the wall, I was supposed to bend my body in a V position with my legs straight up in the air, toes pointed towards the ceiling. For the life of me, I could not configure my body this way. I knew that it was humanly possible for this position to be achieved, because EVERYONE in the class was able to do it. I kept checking behind me, perhaps I was too close to the wall or my back was too high up against the wall. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get my legs in the air? They were pointing toward the wall across from me and would not go any higher. Meanwhile, I’m looking to my right at my instructor who obviously is the daughter of Stretch Armstrong and Gumby (is Gumby a boy?). Her body is in a perfect V. “Wow”, I tell myself, I have a lot of work to do.
I am not a fitness moron; I know that to get into that position, abdominal strength is a must. Well, I have another sin to confess, my abdominal strength is lacking, as in – none. When I broke my tailbone last February, I stopped most of my abdominal workouts and even Pilates, which I love. It’s just an excuse. I could do them now, I just convince myself that other things are more important. It was painfully apparent that my nonexistent abdominal strength hindered my barre workout this morning. Did I mention that it was painfully obvious? Painfully.
I suffered through what I thought was the end of the workout when my instructor pulled one last surprise out of her back pocket. The bridge pose. When we moved to the floor, got on our backs and got into bridge pose (shoulders on the mat with knees bent to the sky), I was so relieved. I’ve done this a thousand times, I am going to sail through the end of this workout. Surely we must be almost finished. I almost started laughing again because my body just stopped functioning. So, it was not funny, more frightening. It was almost as if someone placed a heavy weight on top of my body. My legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each and I can’t even tell you how heavy my torso felt, like an elephant sat on my tummy. When instructed to lift and pulse and pulse and lift, I was praying to just be able to move enough of my legs and torso to fake these movements and not look like a complete idiot. I was dumbfounded at my non-ability to do these exercises that everyone else seemed to muster through. Please just let this end.
It finally ended and it’s like giving birth, once the pain is over, you forget about it. Well, kind of. I love the feeling of being done with a workout and knowing I worked hard. I’m not sure that I could have worked any harder. I am acutely aware of my weak areas and I am going to work harder to make them stronger. I will most certainly return. The first time for a new workout is always the hardest. Not knowing what to expect didn’t enable me to pace myself or fully prepare myself for what was ahead.
I would imagine that most people think I’m in good shape, just because I run; although I still have a hard time calling myself a runner. I have hiccups in my fitness routine also. I am happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried something different. I’m also happy that I will have about 2 days after this to remember my awesome workout, my muscles are already screaming.